The Snorgh in Chinese and Turkish

Last night, I stumbled across the Chinese edition of The Snorgh and the Sailor, and I was delighted to see what they’d done with the book. The title in Chinese is 长鼻子冒险家和长耳朵冒险家, or “Long Nose the Adventurer, and Long Ears the Adventurer”. I was wondering what the Chinese translators would do with “Snorgh”, and I think that “Long Nose” is an admirable solution. The cover text is nice as well, with the long nose and ears integrated into the Chinese character for “long” (click the image above to get the full-sized cover). Very clever! And to my surprise, the format is taller than it is wide, so I’ll be interested to get my hands on a copy to see how they have worked on the page layout.

As I am no longer in China, I like to imagine that Long Nose and Long Ears can act as ambassadors on my behalf. I’ll be following their activities closely. There’s a nice review of the Chinese edition here.

Meanwhile, over in Turkey, my wonderful publishers over there, Büyülü Fener, have let me know that their Turkish Snorghs have arrived in the office, and apparently the book is looking good. The Turkish title is Şnörk ve Denizci.

On Failing to Understand the Yijing

How do you culturally translate a text when one of the most striking things about the text is that it is either misunderstood, or simply not understood, in its original language? This is a question I’ve been thinking about for a long time with respect to the Yijing (I Ching 易經) or Book of Changes. The question is particularly pressing as I have been attempting to carry out just such a cultural translation for my forthcoming book, Sixty-Four Chance Pieces: A Book of Changes. And so I’m very pleased to have just published a paper on this topic in JOMEC journal’s special issue on Cultural Translation and East Asia.

Alongside questions of cultural translation, this paper also discusses fish, fish-traps, Zhuangzi, understanding Derrida, not understanding Derrida, the terror of the English when faced with that strangest of French contraptions, the bidet (“what is it for?”), tango dancing in Hong Kong and three-legged birds made of bronze that turn into fish. In other words, it covers most of the things that are of pressing contemporary concern.

You can get hold of it as a PDF (nicely open access) by clicking this link.

A Poem by Han Shan

I’ve been entertaining myself over the last few days translating some poems by Han Shan; and just for the hell of it, I thought I’d post one translation here. I don’t write much poetry of my own (although I used to), so I’m enjoying the experience of taking a break from writing prose, and tinkering with translations.

If you want a bit more background to this fabulous poet, to this particular poem, and to the challenges of translation, you can read Tony Barnstone’s excellent article here. But this poem will probably appeal to Buddhish visitors to this blog.

 

Self and No-self

There is a self,
       there is no self;

this is me,
       or then again not me.

This is how
       I turn it over in my mind,

dragging out the hours
       sat by the cliff.

Between my feet
       the green grass sprouts,

above my head
       the red dust falls,

and seeing me there,
       the common folk

surround my bed
       with funeral wine and flowers.

 

The article linked to above has three alternative translations, as well as the original, so you can have fun comparing, and finding objections to my version. That last line is a bit tricky, incidentally…

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